Earlier this month, New York Makers was reading a newsletter from one of our favorite places, Hawthorne Valley Farm, about January 19 being World Quark Day, celebrating quark, a new product being carried at its store. What the heck is “quark”?! The newsletter describes it as “a delicious high-protein, low-fat alternative to soft cheese and yogurt that can be used for baking, cooking and blending.” Never heard of it. Canadians and Germans apparently might have, unlike most of us here in New York or elsewhere in the US! But since we are in an “Open” New York State of Mind, we decided to go down the rabbit hole and see what this was all about.
We found out quark has a great nutritional story. According to Valerie Lugonja in her “A Canadian Foodie” blog, because it is made from cultured buttermilk, quark is low in fat (less than 0.1g in 100g ( .0035 oz. in 3.5 oz.)), 1/5th the calories of regular cream cheese. Quark contains twice the protein as lowfat yogurt, with no salt added (it contains trace amounts from the milk itself). And, according to Valerie, “It tastes like a cross between cream cheese and yogurt cheese: it is a little sweet, a little tangy and very thick and smooth on the palate.”
Sounded pretty excellent! So we decided to follow Ms. Lugonja’s recipe and make some. Then, perhaps the bridge too far, but not knowing what else to do with 600-500 grams of quark, we decided to make her recommended Homemade Quark Cake (Matthijs’ “Käsekuchen Mit Quark”)!
Our Homemade Quark Cake topped with Silda's Peach Lavender Jam
It was not difficult, but, from start to finish, it was a two-day process from quark-making to cake baking. Was it a success? At least the quark part! Ours looked beautiful -- just like the pictures with the recipe showed. And it tasted just as described. We were delighted.
The cake, however, did not triumph. But that was undoubtedly our being novices making this dessert.
As billed, it was cheesecake like, but lighter and not too sweet. The problem was that the quark released a lot of liquid after we removed the cake from the oven and let it cool, and the crust became soggy. We also had improvised and used a graham cracker crust instead of the one called for in the recipe, but the crust was probably not the real problem. We probably should have allowed our quark to drain for longer than the recipe required. Would it have helped to refrigerate the quark first, or just give it time to rest after removing it from the cheesecloth and see if more liquid would be expelled? Perhaps we could have let the cake cool longer before sampling it, and maybe left it in the refrigerator overnight. So many possibilities for improvement...
But it still tasted very good! We topped it with both Silda’s Peach Lavender Jam and Silda’s Blackberry Lemon Lavender Jam (made by us and available soon on our Marketplace), which were delicious complements. (We are still living off of it right now!) We also rediscovered how easy it is to make a homemade graham cracker crust and how much better it tastes than store bought, even when the middle gets soggy!
We are glad we were open to experimenting with this “new” food. Perhaps you will master the art of Quark Cake the first time you try! Please let us know your results. Note: You may need to do some converting and substituting from Canadian measurements and ingredients (vanilla sugar, for one -- you can just use vanilla), but the internet is a beautiful tool for that! Good luck!!!!!
Making Homemade Quark!
We agree with the way this crust is described: “You'll never buy a store-made graham cracker crust again, with this easy and delicious homemade Graham Cracker Crust recipe! Just three ingredients and 15 minutes to make a perfect tender crust.” We love it!
Prep and ingredients lined up